Friday, August 29, 2008

Justice for disappearance

Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina's military junta waged a campaign of violence against dissidents, students, and unionists known as the "Dirty War". Thousands were disappeared, tortured and murdered by government death squads, their bodies flung from the backs of planes over the Atlantic Ocean to prevent any evidence from coming to light. Today, two of the worst perpetrators of those crimes were finally held accountable for their actions during that era. Antonio Bussi and Luciano Menendez, both senior generals in the military regime, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnapping and disappearance of a leftist senator in 1976. Given that they are in their 80's, that jail sentence might be short, but they have been held to account. After 32 years, there has been some justice for the disappeared.

This is why the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is so important: it means that people like these will not be able to find sanctuary anywhere in the world, but will instead face justice for their crimes. And that is why New Zealand should sign it.